Education for Nature - Vietnam
Source: The Sai Gon Liberation Newspaper
Issue: 9390
Date: 20 August 2003
Author: Le Phong

Irrationality While Farming Soft-shell Turtles

 Soft-shell turtles have become domestic animals of highly economic value since 1990 when the former Hai Hung province succeeded in farming soft-shell turtles, becoming notable with soft-shell turtle farming models aimed at improving incomes for local people. Since then, soft-shell turtles have been farmed in many other areas such as Ho Chi Minh city , eastern South Vietnam , and provinces in the Cuu Long River delta. A large number of people has farmed soft-shell turtles, and have become billionaires shortly. Nevertheless, a number of people have gone bankrupt due to farming soft-shell turtles.

First of all, it can be said that soft-shell turtles bring farmers a good profit, and attract many farmers because the circle to recover investment capital and profit is short. A soft-shell turtle as breeding stock costs 10,000 VND, and grows up to an average of one kilos in weight after being farmed a year. Then the soft-shell turtle can be sold for 140,000 VND. After deducting the spending, a soft-shell turtle brings the farmer a profit worth half of the sale turnover. The suitable density for farming soft-shell turtles is five individuals in a square metre of farming pond. Thus, if you have 1,000 square metres of water surface, you can gain a profit of about 400 million VND a year from farming soft-shell turtles. Another fascinating thing is that the regional market and America has a great demand for soft-shell turtles. Additionally, farmers should know that it is easy to farm soft-shell turtles, but soft-shell turtles are fastidious. Most farmers only pay attention to food sources and levels of nutrient of the food sources for their soft-shell turtles, but little attention is given to the living environment, nature and behaviour of the soft-shell turtle. This is a main cause of failure. In fact, soft-shell turtles love living in clean water although the food for them always make the water opaque and dirty. Therefore, if no supporting actions are taken, soft-shell turtles will die one after another.

In spite of the fact that farming soft-shell turtles brings a good profit, the Government has not made any policies in order to motivate farmer to set up soft-shell turtle farming models. Most of the soft-shell turtles are exported to countries in the region, so farmers have to follow many export procedures. Additionally, they have to pay a quarantine fee of 10,000 VND per a soft-shell turtle which is exported. The quarantine fee is too high in comparison to other agricultural products for export. During the harvesting season, soft-shell turtle farmers feel happy and relax after working hard, but they have to spend an amount of money worth one soft-shell turtle on the fee when they export every 14 individuals. Nevertheless, the quarantine is not hard or complicated. However, farmers have to pay a quarantine fee of 2,000 VND for a soft-shell turtle as breeding stock which is imported from Thailand . Why is the import fee applied for soft-shell turtles one-fifth less than the export fee? Does it mean that regulations encourage farming domestic soft-shell turtles as breeding stock but not motivate export of soft-shell turtles?

These are the worrisome things that should be coped with.